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The role of the Port of San Diego

The Port of San Diego, approaching its 50-year anniversary, fulfills many important roles for the San Diego region. But how much do you know about your port?

The Port of San Diego is the fourth largest of the 11 ports in California. The agency was created by the state legislature in 1962.

The Port of San Diego is an economic engine, an environmental steward of San Diego Bay and the surrounding tidelands, and a provider of community services and public safety to tourists and residents.

It is a unified port, because it manages nearly 6,000 acres — half land, half water — in five member cities: Chula Vista, Coronado, National City, Imperial Beach and San Diego.

About 40 percent of this land is under the jurisdiction of the federal government, in the form of U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard facilities.

A seven-member Board of Port Commissioners governs the port. One commissioner is appointed by the city councils of Chula Vista, Coronado, Imperial Beach and National City.

Three commissioners are appointed by the San Diego City Council.

The board members serve terms of four years and have limits of two terms. The board establishes policies under which the port's staff — under the port’s president and CEO — conducts its daily operations.

The Port of San Diego has two marine cargo terminals: Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal in the City of San Diego and National City Marine Terminal in National City.

The Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal processes fruit and other perishables, steel used for shipbuilding, and alternative energy components. The terminal also processes sand, cement, fuel and fertilizer.

At the National City Marine Terminal, we import automobiles and lumber. One in 10 imported cars on U.S. roads comes through this terminal.

Here are some maritime statistics for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011:

• 2.84 million metric tons of cargo;

• $35 million in revenue;

• More than 272,000 cars imported;

• Just under 100,000 containers of bananas and other perishables imported.

Maritime businesses bring in about $600 million annually and provide around 19,000 jobs with an average wage of $60,000.

The Port of San Diego is also one of only 17 strategic ports in the United States. That means that at any time, the military can use our terminals to move equipment in and out of our port.

Another revenue generator for the region is the port’s cruise industry. In fiscal year 2011, 104 cruise ships brought nearly 315,000 passengers to the Port of San Diego. Each cruise ship call has an economic impact of $1 million dollars.

The Port of San Diego has its own police force, the Harbor Police Department, which provides law enforcement services with 130 officers patrolling the tidelands in cars and boats. Harbor Police are also the primary marine firefighting service provider on San Diego Bay. Its security and law enforcement services are contracted by San Diego International Airport.

The port’s real estate department manages the leases of more than 600 tenants and subtenants. Tenants range from waterfront hotels, shipbuilders, marinas, as well as mom and pop ice cream shops. In fiscal year 2011, real estate revenue totaled $80.9 million.

Since 1963, the port has invested $1.7 billion into the region through projects. Some of the port’s key current projects include: the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan; North Embarcadero Visionary Plan Phase 1; Lane Field; San Diego Convention Center Expansion; and Old Police Headquarters.

The Port of San Diego manages more than 250 acres of parks and open space, including 17 public parks. The port will be celebrating the completion of its 18th park, Ruocco Park, at the corner of Pacific Highway and Harbor Drive on the north end of Seaport Village.

The Public Art Office manages public art programs and exhibitions that enable residents of California and visitors to the region to engage with art in the public realm.

As an environmental steward, the port monitors pollution in San Diego Bay, as well as air pollution around the tidelands.

• The port’s Environmental Fund was established in 2006 to finance projects that would enhance or protect San Diego Bay, its wildlife and the port tidelands. Since the inception of the fund, 42 projects have been completed and another 21 projects are under way. The total amount funded for completed and in progress projects is $7.3 million.

• The Green Port Program started in 2008 and serves as a guide to help the port reduce its carbon footprint.

• In December 2010, the port opened up the new Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier. The events center and auxiliary cruise ship terminal is the port’s first green building, earning a gold-level LEED certification for it.

• In 2011, the port kicked off its Green Business Challenge. More than 50 tenant businesses signed up to learn how to implement sustainability measures into their daily operations.

To stay in touch with what’s happening on San Diego Bay, connect with us by visiting portofsandiego.org.

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